Fish oil cancer warning suspect, says SCU academic

A SOUTHERN Cross University professor has questioned the results of a study linking increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids to prostate cancer.

Long touted for its ability to prevent heart disease, strokes and diabetes and to improve cognitive function, fish oil is one of the most popular nutritional supplements.

According to the latest study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, higher levels of omega-3 in men increase the likelihood of high-grade prostate cancer by 71%.

But Professor Stephen Myers said the findings of the study were inconsistent with the current evidence.

Prof Myers said as the study showed no link between the amount of omega-3 fatty acids consumed and an increase in prostate cancer the results were not strong.

"Given the fact that for cardiovascular reasons and arthritis reasons we are recommending people increase their fish intake and start taking fish oil supplements, prostate cancer should be significantly on the rise and it's not," he said.

Prof Myers said there was no reason for people to reduce their intake of fish or fish oil supplements based on the findings of the study.

The team behind the research also published a 2011 study which showed men with the highest levels of DHA - a type of omega-3 - had double the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Senior author Dr Alan Kristal said: "We've shown once again that use of supplements may be harmful."

"Recommendations to increase long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake, in particular through supplementation, should consider its potential risks," the US study said.

The study compared blood from 834 prostate cancer patients with 1393 healthy men.

The Heart Foundation currently recommends adults consume at least 500mg of omega-3 every day from oily fish or fish oil supplements.

Topics:  editors picks southern cross university

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